Angry students took a break from lifting to occupy the steps — well, just one step — of UCF's Recreation and Wellness Center in protest against what they believed to be constricting clothing policies. The catch? Only two people showed up.
After RWC staff allegedly told a student he couldn't wear his "Y-back" while working out, the disgruntled gym goer took to Twitter. Although it's since been unretweeted, the post was shared on the popular UCF_Problems page.
However, Scott Mauro, marketing and communication manager at the RWC, says this rule is "neither new nor a ban."
Even so, it wasn't long before someone called for a formal sit-in to "occupy every inch of the steps of the gym in stringers so no one can enter." UCF student Timothy Henderson and alumnus Christian James weren't enough to block the gym entrance, but they did show up in their stringer tanks.
"This comes with the fitness lifestyle and I think it is kind of crazy that they are going to try and tell us what we can and can't wear. It has nothing to do with being Greek," Henderson said. "I come here to let off the stress and I do this competitively so when I'm in the gym, I honestly like to look at myself and look at the muscles and see what muscles are working when I am doing certain exercises."
According to the policies on the RWC's website, the facility permits clothing such as jeans, cargo shorts and pants. It also states that "shirts or tops must fully cover the back, front and sides of the torso." Last Friday, the RWC implemented a new educational marketing component using posters and PowerPoint slides to address issues of emergency situations and apparel.
Mauro said no students have or are going to be forcibly removed, but if a student isn't wearing appropriate clothing or adhering to the policies, the students will be confronted.
The staff at the gym has put together a bin of T-shirts that can be provided to students if they are deemed as wearing inappropriate apparel but want to finish their workout.
"It is an existing policy. It's been our policy for a number of years now. It's neither new nor a ban. With every student who is not wearing an appropriate piece of clothing, we are going to educate them," Mauro said. "Depending on the circumstance, we may not even ask them to do anything, we may just educate them, let them finish their workout and say 'next time you come back, make sure to wear the right clothes.'"
The reason for these policies is to promote a "safe and clean environment," according to the website. Wearing clothing that exposes too much skin and sweat to the equipment and upholstery can cause MRSA to form and spread.
"We as a facility, from a risk management standpoint, already have to take those things into consideration and we clean for that stuff. It's not a policy meant to be anything other than a safety and an inclusive thing. The policy itself is meant for inclusivity and health and safety," Mauro said.
Aside from cleanliness, the gym policies also focus on ensuring that the gym is a place for everyone. The policies prohibit offensive language or symbols on clothing items.
"Because I am an [alumnus], I am here month by month, or however long I decide to pay. So as alumni, it might make me want to go to another gym. But for students who pay an athletic fee for this gym ... it's really restrictive for students," James said.
Not all students are against the apparel policies, Mauro said that they have gotten feedback from concerned students about what is being worn in the gym.
"We aren't saying you can't wear something offensive in the gym. We are saying [there] will be repercussions. If someone is offended, we have a responsibility to provide an elusive environment. I don't feel like we are oppressing expression here," Mauro said. "If students go to other gyms, they are going to find similar policies. It falls in line with just about every campus recreation department you could find out there."
Bridgette Norris is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @blogginbridge or email her at BridgetteN@CentralFloridaFuture.com.